North Queensland Fury CEO Rabieh Krayem has labelled the postponement of tonight’s A-League match between his side and the Newcastle Jets as “an absolute disgrace”.
The match at EnergyAustralia Stadium was officially postponed a little more than 24 hours before kick-off due to the poor condition of the pitch – a direct result of a motocross event being held at the venue on October 16.
Krayem, who has his own woes with the Fury currently supported fully by Football Federation Australia and struggling for survival, was furious at the late notice with the Queenslanders only messaged about the situation when in transit from Brisbane to Newcastle on Tuesday.
He levelled the blame at NRL club the Newcastle Knights who are major tenants and hold management rights at the state government-owned stadium, subleasing it to the Jets.
The Jets, who were on the brink of collapse themselves until taken over by millionaire resources chief Nathan Tinkler last month, have long complained about the arrangement.
“This situation is an absolute disgrace,” Krayem said.
“Whoever is in charge at Newcastle Knights for hiring out the stadium should be held responsible for this and if they worked for me, they wouldn’t any more.
“To host a motocross event less than two weeks before an A-League football match is just mind-boggling.
“This motocross event was held on October 16 and stadium officials would have been aware of the damage long before today, so a decision on our fixture should have been made by Monday at the very latest.
“The state of the pitch is beyond a disgrace and is certainly not fit to hold any football match, let alone the country’s premier football competition.
“It’s astonishing that Football Federation Australia were only made aware of the situation today and that no thought was given by anyone as to where the opposition were travelling from.”
The FFA had earlier announced the decision to postpone the match in a statement on Tuesday evening, citing: “significant damage caused to the playing surface following the Super X event on October 16.”
The FFA said a decision on Sunday’s match between the Jets and Melbourne Heart is expected to be made on Wednesday.
“Following an alert from Newcastle Jets management today, FFA dispatched senior staff to inspect the playing surface,” said A-League boss Lyall Gorman.
“The need for player safety and player welfare is paramount and a decision was made that the ground was not acceptable for competitive football.”
The FFA is examining alternatives for both matches.
The Newcastle Jets could not immediately be reached for comment.